In this week’s edition, I want to discuss an interesting element of strength training. After watching the IPF worlds recently I came to an interesting revelation: size does not always equal strength. While clearly you have beasts like Dennis Cornelius, Ray Williams and Jezza Uepa taking advantage of the Heavyweight and super Heavyweight classes for the most part, compared to classes like the 83kg in which the winner John Haack beat not only his entire weight class, he beat all but 2 of the 93’s, all but 6 of the 105’s, half of the 120’s and 5 of the super heavyweights. If you think about this, it makes literally no sense, how is it remotely possible that a lifter weighing just 181 pounds can out total world class lifters some of whom weigh double his weight.
This is just considering absolute strength, which is interesting. Because we are always told that bigger means stronger, but when you think about it for the most part that is pretty inaccurate. While a 300-pound offensive lineman might bench 405 there are also plenty of running backs that can rep 365 which isn’t much less and relatively that’s significantly stronger. Clearly, that’s anecdotal at best. But, using the Wilks formula which is a somewhat useful formula at comparing relative strength although favorable to heavier lifters, Sergey Fedosienko beat the heaviest total in IPF history by over 24 Wilks points.
But, the biggest difference is in the deadlift. Ray William’s 360kg (792 pound) winning deadlift was tied by an injured Krzysztof Wierzbicki’s opener for heaviest deadlift off the competition. I am sure that at the next worlds, Wierzbicki or perhaps Eli Burks of the U.S will surpass this with ease. In my opinion, that demonstrates that in an absolute sense bigger is not always stronger.
Obviously, this is not a complete analysis of strength when compared to size, look at strongman, the strongest man in the world Brian Shaw is around 400 pounds in bodyweight so I suppose from that sense it is a requirement to be bigger. However, it is hard to argue that strength and size have a direct relation. A lot of people like to believe that being bigger, or more fat can help to reduce your leverages, while this is not accurate, having 10 extra pounds on your arms probably makes bench pressing heavy a little easier.
But, to conclude there is no guarantee that being bigger will make you stronger. It probably helps, I mean look at the400-pound00 pound monster that is Ray Williams and he can out total almost anyone in the IPF raw or equipped. But, that is not an essential part of strength or powerlifting, relative strength is much more impressive. Find a weight class that you can fit into comfortably with a small weight cut if you do 2 hour weigh-ins, and pursue strength limitlessly. Brett Gibbs made an excellent point when asked about potentially moving up to the 93kg weight class, he said that he still has goals to accomplish and room to grow in the 83. This is a great way to look at it each weight class provides you with a unique opportunity.
Bryce Lewis is a great example of this, his move from the 93’s to the 105’s transformed his lifting. He totalled 740kg at 2015 Arnold Pro Raw, just 7 months later he obliterated that and reached 827.5kg at 2015 raw nationals. He added almost 200 pounds to his total in 7 months simply by moving up a weight class. Now his total borders on 900kg, it is amazing the impact that a weight class can have on performance. The most important thing is to find a class that suits you, your body type and your lifestyle.
Powerlifting should complement your life as much as possible. Some lifters want to look like fashion models, some lifters want to eat a lot of texas BBQ either way powerlifting can welcome you and boost your life in whatever way you choose. If you want nutritional advice and coaching to help you find the right weight class for you. Check out collegestrength.org for our coaching and nutritional advice.